I’m sure most of you have heard of ‘cake mix cookies’ and that by adding simply ‘one or two more ingredients’, you can have delicious cookies.
I’m not really the type that takes the ‘easy’ road when it comes to baking something that I want to bake, so finding an ‘inexpensive’ way to make cookies wasn’t really on my roster. I am, however, previously known to be a cake mix hoarder. Why? Well, I make cakes for friends and so I’d always have cake mix on hand. I think at one point, I had 14 boxes of cake mix that were not destined to become a cake, but when I was at the store I was like “Ooo, I don’t think I have any cake mix.” Yeah… that’s me! Cake Mix Hoarder!
So, I had 3 boxes of cake mix, two red velvet and one vanilla and thus I decided to try this ‘cake mix cookie’ thing that people just rave over. I did the crackle cookies which is where you mix the cake mix with the eggs and just some melted butter, roll it into balls and dip it into a powdered sugar/cornstarch mix and bake. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t gross, they just weren’t COOKIES! They were more like little, rounded cake bites.
Sorry guys who like cake mix cookies… my socks were not blown off by the cake mix cookie revelation.
What I decided to do was experiment and try to get it to make ACTUAL cookies without having to add 500 more ingredients and so I came up with something that I think worked GREAT! I mean.. I’ve had five cookies since yesterday, when I made them, and that’s saying a lot, considering the size of them. I thought they were super delicious, so I’m going to share with you the recipe I came up with. Be forewarned, however, that this is VANILLA cake mix. Know that any time you make something with powdered chocolate (aka–chocolate cake mix), that it’s going to be more dry, so I would stick with non chocolate cake mix for this specific recipe, but don’t worry! I’m going to come up with a chocolate one for you. I’m actually thinking of ‘chocolate peppermint’ or even a ‘german chocolate’. Now, Stephanie can’t eat coconut but I love it. Love, love, love it, so I can’t exactly just not bake with it!
Anyhow, let’s get on with the cookies so you can revel in their deliciousness, especially if you like peppermint. Not to mention, they’re good for the holidays since peppermint is like the Christmas flavor.
Preheat your oven to 350 for a regular electric oven with the heating element on it, or 325 for gas or convection. I have a convection oven and if I don’t knock off 25 degrees of the cooking temp and go with the longer, slower way of baking, things tend to burn.
Butter and Brown Sugar
First things first…as with 99% of cookie/baking recipes, we’re going to cream together the softened butter and the brown sugar until it’s nice and fluffy. Once that is done, add the eggs, one at a time and mix until well incorporated.
Adding in the Eggs
Now I poured in the cake mix and began mixing. It’s going to be kind of dry and you’re going to think ‘Oh my gosh, there’s not enough moisture’ for a minute or two but there is. Don’t freak out, just keep mixing until you get all that dry cake mix blended in and its a sticky, semi-loose dough. Kinda like really thick icing is how I would describe the texture.
Butter, Eggs and Sugar
I was going to tint my cookies red because I wanted it to match the candy cane crumble and when I went for the red food coloring, (pause for funny story), I remembered at one point my OLDEST kid decided he needed red food coloring for some costume blood apparently, because I had found the container out in the garage after his ‘fake massacre photo shoot’ he did for fun with his friends around Halloween last year. (Yes… I use food coloring that long!) Sooooooo… I decided to make it a pale blue because that says ‘snowflake’ and ‘snow’ to me.
Add the food coloring of your choice or leave the cookies white, which now that I think about it, would have matched the red and WHITE candy canes! Oh well! Then mix until all your dough is the desired color. You can even semi-mix it and have ‘streaked’ cookies which would be just fine!
Cake Mix Batter
Add the peppermint extract. I use pure extracts. Extracts that are imitation have a yucky flavor but if you’re not bothered by that weird, somewhat metallic tang, use what you have on hand. This is a fair reminder to you all… any time you use a strong flavored extract such as almond or peppermint, it’s best to start off very small and work your way up to the desired flavor. Don’t just go dumping that stuff in because it can quickly overpower what you’re cooking! I started off with literally two drops of peppermint. I wanted these cookies to be minty, but I didn’t want it to burn my mouth and upset my whole digestive system with its cool, crisp, minty flavor. Eventually, I added about 1/8 tsp of mint until it was to MY liking. This doesn’t mean you can’t add more if you want. Plus this gives you the chance to eat some dough. I know there’s this big thing where everyone is like O.M.G, you can’t eat raw eggs anymore! You’ll get a worm or a disease!
Tossing in the White Chocolate Chips
I’m like, hey look… I’ve been eating raw eggs since I was a kid and.. I’m still going to taste my stuff. It’s important when you buy your eggs, that they’re kept at 43 F in the grocery store and as well at home. Does this mean your eggs are safe? No not really, but the cold does help prevent the growth of Salmonella. In fact, 1/3 of egg producers do not vaccinate their hens for Salmonella because the law doesn’t require chickens to be vaccinated while in other countries, like Britain, law requires ALL hens to have their vaccinations before they begin producing eggs for public consumption. So, while I’m not telling you that its ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY SAFE by any standards, I’m telling you that I’m a risk taker and I’m gonna taste my batter and hope I don’t get sick later! The choice, inevitably, is yours!
White Chocolate Chips Folded In
Once you’ve got your dough all colored and pepperminted up, it’s time to simply fold in the white chocolate chips. I like to continue to fold them in until I’m sure there’s enough in the batter that every cookie gets some of them.
After this, I place the dough on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. This time I used my new ‘cookie scoop’ and it kinda scooped BIG cookies because I couldn’t really scrape off excess dough due to its sticky, chocolate chip filled body. This is the reason I had larger cookies, and cookies that reached out to hug their neighbors. If you’re more precise that I was, all you need to do is give them about 2 inches of space between them, their neighboring cookies and the walls of your baking sheets for them to have space to grow.
Cookie Dough on Parchment Paper
I got 12 cookies per sheet. I have large baking sheets.
If you’re baking them on 325 due to having a gas or convection stove, bake them for 10-11 minutes. If you’re baking them on 350 for an electric stove, check them around 8 minutes. The edges should be browning slightly for them to be done.
While your cookies are baking, take your candy canes and unwrap them and break them into pieces. No, you don’t have to break them into pieces to be cookie toppers by hand, but I did discover that, while the straight shaft of the candy cane was easily broken under my bashing rolling pin, the crook part, because you’re practically hitting two parts of it at once, had a tendency (before I put them in a ziploc bag and beat them on the counter top), to shoot across the kitchen before shattering into uneven pieces. Place your broken candy canes in a ziploc bag and beat them until you get little bits. I got some dust too because I was overzealous in the abuse of my candy canes, but the cookies that had the most ‘bits’ on them were SO delicious so I encourage bits over dust.
Candy Cane Fodder
Once your cookies come out of the oven with their slightly browned edges, sprinkle them with the candy cane bits so that the bits will melt and stick to the cookies. I still had some fall off which, much to my 11 year old’s delight, meant he got to pick them off the cookie sheets later.
Let the cookies cool before you try to take them off the pan. They’ll be crunchy on the edge and nice and moist in the middle once cooled. But if you try to take them off the sheet before that, the middle is probably going to fall out of it.
As you can see, my blue, I guess because of the ‘white’ or ‘off white’ of the vanilla cake, came out looking more green. Stephanie actually asked me if they were pistachio (even though they had candy canes on top) and I was like ‘NO! They’re the white chocolate peppermint we have been DISCUSSING!’ Hah! None the less, these cookies, in my opinion, I thought were pretty amazing! I hope you enjoy them for your holiday gatherings!